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Winter Fun

Can We Talk? / Parenting Taboos

I saw this video about parenting taboos by Babble co-founders (and husband and wife) Rufus Griscom and Alisa Volkman on Little Monster. Rufus and Alisa are wonderfully honest and made me laugh—especially when Rufus couldn’t identify his own eight-week-old son in a photo line-up. (If we’re being truthful here, I’m pretty sure Tim couldn’t have done it, either. But he’ll have to answer that one himself.) Like Lisa says on Little Monster, “As a new mother, I am always looking for honesty and answers when things happen that I don’t understand (which was everything!).” I hope you can take some time to watch the video. It’s a little long, but worth it. Just grab some clothes to fold or straighten out your desk while it’s playing.

Rufus and Alisa bravely wade into difficult waters, including coping with miscarriage and the isolation you can feel as a new mother. At one point, Alisa tells the audience that she asked her sister, a mother of three, why no one told her how lonely she would feel when all the visitors had left and she was home alone with her new baby. Her sister’s reply was that “it’s just not something you want to say to [someone] who’s having a baby for the first time.”

It’s quite a dilemma, isn’t it? On one side we have moms and dads who are afraid to admit their worries and fears while over on the other side are people who could help, but are afraid to say anything because they don’t want to seem negative. Or—maybe—they’re afraid to admit that life with kids isn’t always completely rosy for them, either.

It’s certainly something I struggle with, especially with this blog. It would be so easy to post photos of my kids happily doing art projects and only share all the good things that happen in our lives. And there are very successful bloggers who do just that. There’s nothing wrong with focusing on the positive side of life. We all need our “happy places.” And, besides, the happy moments are real, too.

Except that I know there’s a mom out there who’s hating herself right now because she yelled at her kids as she was trying to get them out the door on time or she plunked her toddler down a little too hard in his crib because he wouldn’t stop fussing. Knowing that, I just can’t project constant sunniness. Or at least I can’t do it all the time. Every now and then maybe we need to visit the darker side of parenting to check in and see how we’re all doing.

And then we can go back to recipes and DIYs, knowing that we all understand and no one is pretending anything.

So. If you were talking to a new mother, or someone who just found out she’s pregnant, what would you tell her that you wish you would have known? And please don’t feel like you have to be an actual mother to share your insights! Some of the best parenting wisdom I’ve received has come from friends who don’t have children of their own, but care deeply about the kids in their lives and mother them in their own way.

Is it hard to just jump in? I can go first.

I spent so many years trying not to get pregnant that it was a shock when it took nearly a year to conceive. And then when I finally did, I didn’t know that it was normal to spot a little. I spent a horrible couple of days thinking I was having a miscarriage before I could get in to have an ultrasound. Afterward, a bunch of women told me that it happens all the time. I wish I would have known that.

Also. I never realized how mad I would get at my kids. And how bad I would feel about that. And I think I made everything worse by feeling bad about being mad. If that makes sense.

Okay, your turn. What taboos do you struggle with the most? What do you wish you would have known before you became a parent?

Comments

  1. Steph says:

    None of us are totally perfect parents – they don’t exist – but if you do your best and love your children, then I think that’s as close as you can get. I’ve been crosser than I should have been with the kids at times, but I did always try to say sorry later and explain why I overreacted. Being honest is important I think.

  2. Leslie says:

    That parenting is a constant struggle between doing for your child(ren) and finding time for yourself. Sometimes, you feel really guilty about doing things that are “just for you.” I agree that the illusion of “perfect parenting” perpetuates the problem, making parents feel inadequate. We ALL need to take time out for ourselves; knowing that we aren’t alone helps debunk the myth.

  3. Cathy says:

    Definitely don’t let a birthday party pass. Calder’s is in early December and we had a lot going on so were going to do it later….then the holidays came…..then…..then. It was finally August. Poor little guy! Mark my words, when he’s sitting is his dorm room late one night talking about how awful his childhood was, this WILL be brought up.

  4. Shannon says:

    So many things to forget and then beat ourselves up about! Like the darn Tooth Fairy. I usually remember at about 1 in the morning, but one time I totally forgot and had to come up with a big scheme to cover my tracks.

  5. Mary Jo Nohava says:

    Before I had kids, I often thought about how I would parent and what kind of parent I would be. Nothing could have prepared me enough to be a step parent first and then a regular parent. I love being a mom, but it is a really hard job. I didn’t realize how much of my life would revolve around training someone to sit up straight at the table and keep their feet in front of them. I never realized how much I would be repeating myself and that eventually I would hear my own mother’s words come out of my mouth, no matter how much I vowed that I would do things differently.

  6. Tim says:

    He’s the one in the onesie that says – Andrew – right?

  7. Shannon says:

    Very funny, Tim. Although I don’t really blame you. When Andrew came out with all that dark, curly hair it made us both go ????

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